After several days surfing Wall Street’s gut-wrenching swells and troughs, investors got a smoother ride yesterday.
The stock market took an early plunge but recovered nearly all of the ground it lost as the day went on. By the closing bell most indexes were showing modest gains.
Despite the relatively calm day, many market professionals say investors have not seen the last of the market’s big moves.
Traders are still fretting that global growth will slow and that Europe could slip into another recession, hurting corporate profits.
Then there are the many geopolitical uncertainties, including conflicts in Syria and Iraq and concern over the impact of the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
“The sailing has been much too smooth, so going forward, at the very least, (we’re) back to normal turbulence,” said Erik Davidson, deputy chief investment officer of Wells Fargo Private Bank.
Yesterday, investors drew some encouragement from new data on the labour market and the latest batch of corporate earnings. Energy stocks surged as oil prices bounced back, notching only their fourth daily gain in a month.
“We had some positive economic data that reminded everybody that the economy is doing quite well,” said Randy Frederick, a managing director of trading and derivatives with the Schwab centre for financial research.
Another sign of easing anxiety: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose after plunging a day earlier.
The Dow Jones industrial average sank as much as 206 points in the first hour of trading, turned higher an hour later, then wavered in a small range the rest of the day.
The moves echoed Wednesday’s trading, when the Dow plunged as much as 460 points, then recovered much of that loss to close down 173.
Yesterday the Dow closed down 24.50 points, or 0.2%, to 16,177.24.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.27 points, or 0.01%, to 1,862.76. The Nasdaq composite gained 2.07 points, or 0.1%, to 4,217.39.
The S&P 500 is up 0.8% for the year, while the Nasdaq is up 1%. Both had been down for 2014 a day earlier. The Dow remains down 2.8% for the year.
Small-company stocks also rebounded. The Russell 2000 index added 13.36, or 1.3%, to 1,085.81. The index is still down 6.7% for the year.
Investors cheered earnings from Delta Air Lines, which reported results early yesterday that beat analysts’ forecasts.
The stock, which has been pummelled this week amid worries about the impact that worries about the Ebola virus might have on bookings, rose 94 cents, or 2.9%, to 33.32 dollars.
Philip Morris International gained after reporting quarterly results that exceeded analysts’ forecasts. Philip Morris’ shares rose 1.68 dollars, or 2%, to 85.26 dollars.
Netflix plunged 19% after the company’s subscriber growth fell short of its own forecasts following a rate increase. The stock slid 86.89 dollars to 361.70 dollars.
Half of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 rose, led by a 1.7% rise in energy stocks as the price of crude oil turned higher after a recent slump. Chesapeake Energy led the risers in the S&P 500, climbing 3.02 dollars, or 17%, to 20.79 dollars.
Investors also assessed a mixed bag of US economic data.
Unemployment aid applications fell last week to the lowest level in 14 years, another sign that the job market is strengthening.
US Treasury yields stabilised. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.15% from 2.14% late on Wednesday.
The price of oil rebounded somewhat despite an energy department report showing a sharp increase in US stockpiles. Benchmark US crude rose 92 cents to close at 82.70 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many US refineries, rose 69 cents to close at 84.47 dollars on the ICE Futures exchange in London.